Missing bolts, Ed Sheeran and Australia!

How does Ed Sheeran fit in with missing bicycle parts and a trip to Australia? It was just another phase of gruelling triathlon qualification for Logic Wealth Planning client Chris Forde. Read about the Manchester man’s latest exploits here…

We featured Chris in mid-2018 following some amazing performances at triathlon events throughout the year. He has been a valued client for many years and hearing about his exploits has fascinated everyone at the office in Heywood.

Castle on the hill

Back in June 2018, Chris qualified for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Finals held in September. Age is certainly no barrier. Now late-50s, being able to compete in age categories has enabled him to continue setting goals and representing his country at the highest level.

There have been some amusing incidents along the way. During the qualification event for the finals, held on a hot day in Cardiff, Chris was momentarily amazed by the sheer volume of competitors walking around the Millennium Centre area. A helpful steward dispelled any doubts about opponent numbers when she asked if Chris had come to see Ed Sheeran perform!

Pop stars aside, with other fabulous attractions like Cardiff Castle also drawing crowds, Chris got on with business and recorded a solid time in the trio of competition elements – a 750m swim, 20km cycle and a 5km run. He finished within the first four eligible qualifiers, but a week or so passed before he could check the Triathlon England Website.

Thankfully, he received a confirmation email – he would be competing in the ITU World Triathlon Grand Finals, to be held on Australia’s Gold Coast. It was another incredible achievement.

Going for Aussie gold

It was a testing championship build-up, but Chris completed an intense 15-week phase of training and preparation before making the long journey to represent GB. He would be wearing kit that Logic Wealth Planning has helped to sponsor.

On such trips, there’s plenty to consider. For the competition bike no separate overland transport was available – for obvious reasons! So it was dismantled and placed in a hard-shell bike box ready for the plane’s cargo hold.

However, there’s always a hitch. The pre-disassembly checks revealed a missing bolt that should hold the crank together. This explained some sloppy gear changing in previous weeks, but a replacement from Evans Cycles arrived a few days before departure. No panic.

Transit to Australia began at Manchester airport with the small matter of a seven-hour flight to Abu Dhabi. There was a three-hour stopover, followed by a 14-hour flight on to Australia. Oh, and a one-hour overland transfer to Surfers Paradise – not that there was much to see. It was dark on arrival. Chris was also heavily fatigued after the flights, so sightseeing was the last thing on his mind.

Always check the rules

As a seasoned competitor, Chris knows the rules and regulations about triathlon competition inside out. Details are on official websites, but someone always slips through the net.

During a walk on registration day, Chris met an American lady called Molly. She was somewhat distressed, pushing her bike looking for the official sign-in location. Chris had directions and suggested that she tagged along. At the registration centre, she thanked him and they went their separate ways.

By chance, the next morning whilst out running he saw Molly and asked how things were. She didn’t look happy. Unfortunately, she had not been allowed to register. Her bike did not meet the requirements of the pre-race checks. She hadn’t read up on the rules!

Chris, thankfully, had no such issues. Registration, however, proved to be very long morning of standing in queues in the hot sun. It was not ideal the day before the race. After numerous requests, stewards handed out water to the waiting participants.

Another sunny race day

It was no surprise that race day was warm and sunny. Chris took his place ten minutes before the swim (750m), clad in wet suit because water temperature was below 22C. He completed the distance unscathed and emerged stripping off his wet suit as he readied himself for the cycle (20km).

Even then there are rules. Competitors can be penalised if they don’t leave swimming equipment in designated areas, or in baskets if supplied. Chris ploughed on, made a speedy transition and ran the few hundred metres to the cycle mount line.

The ride consisted of two laps of 10km on a closed road circuit. There were two minor climbs and a couple of dead turns. The best tactic was to stay with the fastest bunch. Then competitors jumped off bikes before the transition area. Bike into rack, helmet removed, bike shoes off, running shoes on and away…

That left the fast and flat 5km run. It was gruelling but successfully completed. Chris finished 71/82 overall, and 9/10 from the GBR competitors with a time of 01:19:58. It wasn’t his most notable finishing position, but it was memorable for many reasons. Also, travelling east seemed to play havoc with his circadian rhythms – ultimately affecting performance.

Hobnobbing on the plane home

After the pain came the pleasure, and a few days in a more relaxed frame of mind. Then it was time to go home. Whether by fortune or planning it seemed that a significant number of the GBR elite women’s team was on the plane – such notables as Vicky Holland (World Champion) and Jodie Stimpson (Commonwealth Champion).

Another notable was Louise Minchin (BBC correspondent & competitor). She was busy chatting to all and sundry, always pleasant and with time for everyone. The next morning, after returning home, she was co-presenting BBC breakfast TV.

It was another amazing chapter in the life of Chris Forde who shows no sign of slowing down. While Logic Wealth Planning has his pension and retirement plans in hand, Chris intends to carry on reaching new heights in 2019. We look forward to following his progress…